Cliffbee.com: Robotmasters Starscream Toy Review

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Name: Starscream
Series: Robot Masters
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Air Commander
Alternate Mode: F-15 Eagle Fighter Jet



FIGHTER MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 17cm Width: 12.5cm

   A grey F-15 with red air intakes and a baby blue nose, as well as baby blue tailfins and rear thrusters and an orange canopy, Starscream looks very similar to the G1 Starscream's jet mode, save for the lighter, more showlike, blue. The blue is probably slightly lighter than on the show in fact, but otherwise it's a good colour set and manages to be faithful to the original and the cartoon - if not the colours on an actual F-15. There are three stamped Decepticon symbols on this jet - one on the nose and one on each wing, facing backwards.

   Considering that the original Diaclone based toy was a fairly good representation of the F-15, it's not really a surprise that this is a better F-15. The improvements are minor, mind you. The wings now sit flush against his fuselage, the front wheel retracts rather than simply detaching. The wings, tailfins and tailwings are all permanently attached now as well - to me this is the biggest improvement. This might sound like a minor thing, but the number of wingless seekers out there is amazing - so it overcomes one of the biggest hurdles to finding a G1 Starscream. The last thing they've fixed up is the gap between the engines - there's now only a seam.

   There's not really a lot of play value here. The front wheels retracts, the cockpit opens without really revealing much more than a cavity and the bombs under his wings can rotate or detach. This is actually slightly less than on the G1 toy - which had missile launchers rather than solid bombs under the wings. Having said that, those launchers were terribly ineffective.

   To be honest, this mode isn't spectacularly different to what we saw in G1. It's a slight improvement that is very close to the jet we saw in the cartoon. The play value is about what you can expect from a fixed wing jet. It's a good jet mode that's real purpose is to support the robot mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Pretty much the same as the original, with four major differences. The head rotates, so that you no longer have his face under the nose. The fists fold down as his forearms rotate, rather than having to be added. The wings are on double joints, allowing clearance for his arms without needing to detach and lastly the boots slide down, giving Starscream actual thighs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 12cm

   A grey robot with a red torso, sporting red pillars formed from the air intakes on his shoulders, the grey cockpit on his chest and blue feet and hands. This is of course the Starscream we know from G1 - including the black head with a grey face and red eyes. The grey face and orange canopy on his chest are, like the lighter blue, taken from the animated version. Also taken from the cartoon are the upside down Decepticon symbols on his wings, and curiously these are the only allegiance symbols on Starscream's robot mode.

   So this mode is clearly inspired by the cartoon, and it _is_ quite show accurate. Probably the only major departure from the cartoon is that this toy has the horizontal tailwings on it's ankles like the original - since there wasn't really anything else that could be done with them. The wings on his back at the right height - slightly above those on the G1 toy. The weapons on his arms, based on the G1 launchers with long missiles, attach just above the elbows joints and look pretty good there.

   As you have probably worked out, this toy is really all about the enhanced robot mode. So you'd expect articulation, after 20 years of toy technology. Well, Starscream's head is on a ball joint, as are his shoulders while his elbows are hinged with swivels above then. There are also swivels in his thighs, although this represents the only jointing in his legs - although ball jointed hips do allow for some posing. The large heelspurs formed from the tailfins make the few leg poses stable, but also restrict how the legs can be posed. So the arm and head are articulated but the legs are a little disappointing.

   I don't really mind the limited leg poseability, since knee hinges would have meant gashes in the engines on his jet mode, unless the hinges were placed mid-thigh. Considering Starscream is only a deluxe - and a slightly small one at that - I think they've done a pretty good job of making a robot mode that _looks_ like the cartoon with any articulation at all. The wings are set back slightly, thanks to the double joints they rest on, which means you no longer have to tilt them back when lifting his arms.

   Aside from the largely unavoidable lack of poseability in his legs, the other flaw in this mode is the somewhat disjointed arms - there are holes on his forearms which only appear to be a way of saving plastic. The null rays can detach from his elbows and fit into these holes, but will prevent him from bending his elbows - I'd have preferred solid forearms without this option, since the lasers aren't something he every held in his hands in the cartoon. Still, kudos to the designer for the extra option, I suppose.

   As with most Robotmaster toys, Starscream gains some unusual weapons. In his case they come in the form of twin silver cluster bomb racks, which attach to his chest and have flip lids. If the lids are closed it just looks like he has chromed breasts, so I'd recommend leaving them open. I personally prefer the look of the toy without them. I'm not really unhappy with these things - just unimpressed. Sure, I don't like them, but it's nice they were included, and I have the option of ignoring them.

   The flaws introduced this time around are easily outweighed by the improvements on the G1 toy - and this robot mode is far more show accurate than the almost laughable Actionmaster - with two more points of articulation _and_ an alt mode. Admittedly, by modern standards this isn't the best robot mode out there - but considering it had to copy an existing bodyplan, it's a job well done.

VARIATIONS

   None as such, although as mentioned this is basically a toy version of the G1 cartoon Starscream. Skywarp and Thundercracker are later recolours.

OVERALL

   Considering the limitations the designers had to work within, this is a great effort. Starscream _looks_ like his cartoon incarnation, works well as an F-15 and is more poseable than any previous versions of the character. Yes, there are some flaws, but that's to be expected of a toy trying to do so much - it's not going to be of the standard of a Binaltech toy, because there's not the freedom of design (nor the expense). Recommended for fans of the character or seeker fans, and for cartoon fans in general seeking a show accurate Starscream - 8/10

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